One of our most frequently asked questions is what colours to use for certain products.
Here is our final part of our quick guide to using colourants by product, this week we take a look at colouring Liquids.
You can find part 1 colour cp soap here
Part 2 colour melt and pour soap here
Part 3 colour bath bombs here
There is no definitive usage rate for colours in cosmetic products. How much you add depends on a number of factors, including the type of colourant and the recipe used. The depth of colour will vary with the amount added. Start off with a few drops and build up to the required colour, remember to keep a note of how much you used ready for next time.
Giving advice on colouring liquids is a little trickier; finding the best colourants depends on your formula and the effect you are looking for. Some colours work better in water based products and some are more suited to oils, obviously the colour of your base ingredients will greatly affect the final colour of your product too. So, as always, we recommend you test your planned colourants in a small batch before scaling up your formula.
Mineral pigments are less suitable in liquid products as their large particle size means they sink-out of suspension and they also detract from clarity.
Organic pigments in their powdered form are insoluble in water, they disperse in oils or some forms of solvents and add colour by ‘coating’ the molecules of the products they are added to. They should NOT be used in products applied directly to the skin unless used very sparingly, as they can cause staining
Water Dispersible Pigments are versions of those usually only soluble in either oils or alcohol (solvent) but combined with a surfactant to render them dispersible in water, making them suitable for colouring aqueous products and in moderate quantity will maintain transparency in clear bases.
Water Soluble Dyes (powder/granules/liquid) have small particle size and lend their colour to products by solubilising. The benefits of dyes are that they maintain complete transparency which is ideal in clear liquid bases or in melt and pour soaps. Dyes are synthetic and are not considered natural or “nature identical”.
- If bought in powdered form it will need to be diluted in water, to make a concentrate use a maximum of 5% by weight in 95% water. When diluted in water, dyes often appear a different colour from that of their concentrated liquid or powdered forms.
- When dilute or further diluted in water, dyes often appear a different colour from that of their concentrated liquid or powdered/granular form
- Some of the names can be confusing; labels such as D&C mean it’s suitable for drugs and cosmetics, FD&C means it can also be used in food.
Natural Dyes are similar to synthetic dyes in that they have small particle size and lend their colour to products by solubilising, but they are derived from natural sources as is evident from many of their descriptions.
- Natural Dyes can come in powdered, granular or liquid form. When dilute or further diluted in water, dyes often appear a different colour from that of their concentrated liquid or powdered/granular form.
Solvent Dyes are suitable for colouring solvents and volatile oils including fragrance oils, essential oils and their diluents, which might include Denatured Ethanol (alcohol), Dowanol, IPM or DPG etc.. Ideal for use in room fragrance products such as reed diffusers.
Natural Colours (Spices & Botanicals) some powders work well as mild exfoliants and will also add colour but most others will be too heavy to suspend in a liquid.
- Dried leaves, petals etc can be infused in water, once strained the water can be used in making liquid products.
- Woody herbs, roots, flowers and petals, seaweed etc can be infused in carrier oils such as sweet almond and olive oil. It’s usual to steep the cut or ground root in warm oils until the oils takes on the colour, then strain the particles from the oils and make your lotion etc. with the coloured oils.
Minerals and Clays as well as imparting their own properties can be used to successfully colour liquids, ranging from delicate pastel shades through to deeper earthy hues.
Coloured Micas are fine pigment-coated mica powders which are too heavy to suspend and will settle-out in most liquids.
Cosmetic Glitters and Crystalina are now unable to be used in Rinse off products such as Bath Bombs, Soaps, Body Butters etc. due to the Microbead Ban from January 2018. They are fine to use in Leave On products, but the ban has come into force for rinse off products.
Bio-glitter® can be widely used in most cosmetic products and add a decadent sparkle. They are made on a cellulose base which is completely biodegradable and as such have huge environmental advantage over standard cosmetic grade poly-glitters.
- A little goes a long way, so use sparingly.
To view the colours and application chart, click here